People aged over 50 in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight will be able to get their free flu vaccination from December 1, through into the new year.
As part of the expanded flu vaccination programme, this year is the first that people aged 50 to 64 are also eligible for the free flu vaccination.
It comes as the uptake for this year's campaign has seen thousands of people from across the county coming forward to get their flu jab.
The latest figures show that, across the North Hampshire are, just under three-quarters of over-65s have already had their flu vaccination, and just over half of two to three-year-olds have had the vaccine.
In the West Hampshire area the figures are even higher, with more than three-quarters of over-65s already vaccinated, and nearly two-thirds of two to three-year-olds.
This already represents an improvement on uptake rates, compared to last year.
Dr Nicola Decker, GP and clinical chair of NHS North Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “This winter is like no other for us and the NHS is committed to protecting as many people as possible from the effects of flu.
“Our flu programme is well underway in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and it is good news that we have already vaccinated more people this year compared to last year. We will of course continue to vaccinate people in at-risks groups, and it's great we are now able to offer it to more people in the community.
“Getting the flu jab not only protects you from the more severe effects, but reduces the risk of spreading it to those who are more vulnerable.”
Individuals aged 50 to 64 will be able to get a vaccine from their GP or pharmacy. GP practices will be in contact with people in this group to arrange an appointment.
Notes to editors
Each year the vaccination is free for people most 'at risk' of having severe flu:
- anyone aged 65 and over
- pregnant women
- children and adults aged 6 months to 65 years with an underlying health condition (such as long-term heart or respiratory disease, weakened immune system or have a learning disability)
- children aged 2 and 3 on 31 August 2020
- children in primary school
- people living in long stay residential care homes
- frontline health or social care workers
And this year it has also been expanded to include the following groups of people too:
- people living with someone who's at high risk from coronavirus (on the NHS shielded patient list)
- children in year 7 (secondary school)
- People aged 50 to 64 without a long-term condition (from December 1)
Unsure whether to have your flu vaccine? We hope the below Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) will help.
What is flu?
Flu is an unpleasant disease that spreads quickly and easily through coughing and sneezing. Flu can also give you headaches, a sore throat, fever, chills, and muscle and joint aches. Those people who are at risk, either because of their age or medical conditions, may develop complications such as chest infections and pneumonia.
Why get the vaccine?
The vaccine provides the best available protection against flu. It is not 100% but it will protect a significant number of people and reduce the severity of flu if you get it. It could also help your relatives or carers because you will not be passing the disease to them.
I've heard that the vaccination can give you flu. Is that true?
No; the flu vaccine that is given to adults is made from dead flu virus and cannot cause the infection. The flu vaccine that will be given to most children is a live vaccine, but the viruses in it have been weakened so they can not cause flu. You may get some side effects after the vaccination but these are quite mild like a slightly raised temperature or aching muscles for a couple of days or an ache in the arm where the injection was given. Other reactions are very rare.
Will the flu vaccine protect me against coronavirus?
Getting a flu vaccine will not protect against coronavirus. However, the flu vaccination has many other important benefits. Flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalisation and death.
I think I have coronavirus symptoms – should I still come in for a vaccination?
The symptoms of coronavirus are:
- A new continuous cough
- A high temperature
- A loss of taste and/or smell
If you have any of these symptoms then you should stay at home and self-isolate and attend only when you have recovered or tested negative for coronavirus.